Conscious Cuisine? ‘A Drought Kitchen’

As Cape Town faces a worsening water shortage, South Africa’s No. 1 restaurant is taking drastic action to keep ahead of the crisis.
Severe water restrictions are in place, even though Day Zero—when many of Cape Town’s water taps will go off to cope with the worst drought in over a century—has been pushed back to July 9 (as of now). 

And one of the city’s most creative chefs at one of the best restaurants has just upped the ante, transforming his must-visit The Test Kitchen into a Drought Kitchen – a reduced-water dining experience focusing on using less water in the kitchen and front of house.

Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ ‘Drought Kitchen’ pop-up, opening April 1 at the same site as The Test Kitchen, all but eliminates the need for dishwashing. Instead of china, guests will eat from custom plates made of disposable cards set into reusable picture frames, so each dish looks like a “painting.” 
“At the beginning of the meal we’re also offering every guest a choice. We ask them, ‘Would you be happy to keep your cutlery for the entire meal?’ instead of switching it out. And ten times out of ten they’re more than willing,” Luke says.

Luke hopes that other restaurants in the city, from fine dining to casual spots, will adopt his water conservation strategies. “Everyone is afraid of being judged, me included. If we, [who were] voted the best restaurant in the country this year, can get away with using paper napkins, then everyone else might think, We can do the same,” he says.

It’s your choice: Save Water, Drink Wine! 
In typical style, Luke has created four iterations of the water-wise menu, allowing diners to tailor-make their preferred experience: 
Water Saving Menu: R890 per person
Tea Pairing Menu: R1 040 per person
Gourmand Wine Pairing Menu: R1 190 per person
Iconic Wine Pairing Menu: R1 340 per person

As Conde Nast Traveler says: A reservation at The Test Kitchen is notoriously difficult to get and three years ago, we told you to book your table before you even booked your flight. We still stand by that.
But, if you play your cards right—and by right we mean sit at your computer on March 1 at 1 a.m. EST—you might snag one of the 24 tables in the Drought Kitchen, open April 1 to May 31.
If that doesn’t pan out, call them to get on the daily 35-person waiting list in case something opens up.
If you do plan to go to Cape Town … be sure to follow the suggested water use guidelines, including two-minute showers.

Images courtesy of Andy Lund & acknowledgement: The Worlds 50 Best: Ishay Govender-Ypma 

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